It would be unfair to say that independent art house movie theatres like the Bookshelf Cinema are feeling the biggest impact from the COVID-19 lockdown, but things weren’t exactly easy for them before the outbreak. From the fewer number of films being released theatrically, to big monopolies at the studios and national theatre chains, to the growing number of streaming options, indie cinemas had a lot to deal with before a global pandemic. But is it a lost cause?
Consider the near unlimited amount of content you can access in your home from Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and so many more. Then consider the big cinema chains who have the advantage of first dibs on big movies from big studios, not to mention the leverage of being able to negotiate across dozens of locations, and hundreds of screens versus one-at-a-time. When you take into account these massive challenges, it’s a wonder that so many indie theatres are still standing at all.
Perhaps in Guelph that idea is not so strange because of the incredibly strong and dedicated community that the Bookshelf has fostered for over 30 years in the downtown core. COVID-19 came just after the Bookshelf had finished an elevator to the second floor, as well as the new front-of-house at the cinema that offers a variety of new treats through the Greenroom including beer and spirits. Things were on an upswing, but with even the largest cinema chain in the U.S. possibly hemorrhaging on bankruptcy, how can the small guys be expected to survive the pandemic?
It’s pretty concerning for those us who enjoying seeing movies in a crowd on the big screen, and this week, Bookshelf Cinema manager Peter Henderson will talk about life at the his theatre before and (hopefully) after the pandemic. He also talks about the concerns of his fellow managers of art house cinemas, and how these theatres are only as strong as the communities they’ve built. He also discusses the regular-sized issues facing art house theatres, and whether being in quarantine for months will make people more likely to visit the Cinema once restrictions are lifted.
So let’s talk about going to the movies on this week’s edition of the Guelph Politicast!
Yes, the Bookshelf is still closed, and the Ontario government announced Saturday that the state of emergency will continue until April 23. Of course, you can still order books from the Bookshelf, and you can place those orders at the store’s website here.
Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.